By Charles Errico, Ph.D.
In June of 2018, Governor Ralph Northam granted parental leave for classified staff. This important benefit did not apply to the 2,300 full-time teaching faculty in the VCCS. Even before the Governor’s announcement, the Chancellor’s Faculty Advisory Council (CFAC) had proposed that parental leave was an important recruitment tool and, in addition, reflected that the VCCS valued the precious time that parents spend with newborns. The Chancellor and his staff wholeheartedly agreed and championed a parental leave policy that, in January, the State Board for Community Colleges approved and that takes effect immediately.
The policy allows for eight weeks of paid leave for parents of newborns, adoptions, or court-approved foster placement of a child younger than eighteen years of age. Eligible employees must have been with the college for twelve consecutive months and agree to return to work for six months after the paid parental leave ends. Both parents are eligible and the leave must be taken within six months following the birth, adoption, or foster placement. There are provisions in the policy that take into account that teaching faculty, unlike most other state employees, hold nine rather than twelve month positions.
Three years ago, CFAC proposed a phased retirement program that benefits the senior VCCS faculty. A number of our colleagues have taken advantage of this policy that allows them to reduce their teaching load in the last three years before retirement. Parental leave is of greater value to our junior faculty. In the past, too many young parents had to use their sick and personal leave to have quality time with newborns. Some parents, once they exhausted their leave, received reduced paychecks at the very time that their expenses increased with a new addition to the family.
These policies are a product of the collegial relationship that CFAC has established with the Chancellor and the dedicated members of the System’s Office. We work as a team and, together, have done a great deal to make the VCCS even stronger and that benefit the students who we serve every day. As more baby boomers retire and millennials replace them, these policies will ensure that the VCCS maintains its outstanding faculty.
CFAC will continue to work with the Chancellor to propose policies that strengthen Virginia’s community colleges. As a group, we have strived to move CFAC to a new level of responsibility and respect. In April, we will hold our annual report and feedback session at New Horizons. Until then, please do not hesitate to contact your college CFAC representative with issues that you would wish us to address in the future.